do not even agree about whether music induces emotions:Sloboda (1992, p. 33) claims that “there is a general consen-sus that music is capable of arousing deep and signiﬁcantemotions,” yet Konec ˇ ni (2003, p. 332) writes that “instru-mental music cannot directly induce genuine emotions inlisteners.”At the heart of all this controversy, we believe, lies thefact that researchers have not devoted enough attentionto the question of
music induces emotions. Most writers on the subject acknowledge that this is the mostimportant issue: “Music arouses strong emotional responsesin people, and they want to know why” (Dowling &Harwood 1986, p. 202). Yet, a search of the literaturereveals that surprisingly few articles make any attempt whatsoever to explain the psychological mechanisms thatunderlie listeners’ emotional responses to music. Forinstance, a search for peer-reviewed articles (in English)in
RILM Abstracts of Music Literature
,using the query music
and the time limits1967–2007, revealed 1,033 and 423 articles, respectively,of which a single article in
(i.e., Steinbeis et al.2006) and noneofthe articlesin
aimed toempirically test a theory about how music induces emotions; 21 articlesin each database (2% and 5%, respectively) mentioneda mechanism, or the issue of emotion induction moregenerally, without reporting any relevant data.
Althoughthese searches may not have uncovered every relevantarticle, the point is that the great majority of studiesof musical emotions have not concerned underlyingmechanisms. We use the term
broadly inthis article to refer to any information processing thatleads to the induction of emotions through listening tomusic.
This processing could be simple or complex. Itcould be available to consciousness or not. However, what the mechanisms discussed here have in common isthat they become activated by taking music as their“object.” We adhere to the notion that a deﬁning featureof emotions is that they involve intentional objects: They are “about” something (Frijda 1999, p. 191). Forexample, we are sad about the death of a loved one. What are musical emotions about?One problem with musical emotions is that the conditionsfor eliciting emotions appear to be different from those ineveryday life: In the paradigmatic case, an emotion isaroused when an event is appraised as having the capacity to affect the goals of the perceiver somehow (Carver &Scheier 1998). Thus, for example, a reviewer’s criticism of a manuscript may threaten the author’s goal to get it pub-lished. Because music does not seem to have any capacity to further or block goals, it seems strange that music caninduce emotions. Indeed, it has been denied by someauthorsthat music caninduce common“everydayemotions”such as sadness, happiness, and anger (Kivy 1990; Konec ˇ ni2003; Scherer 2003). We suspect that this view rests on theassumption that such emotions need to reﬂect a
(see Gabriel & Crickmore , Scherer &Zentner , Stratton & Zalanowski [1989; 1991], and Waterman ) for claims about an important role of cognitive appraisal in emotional responses to music).The main assumption of appraisal theory is thatemotions arise, and are distinguished, on the basis of aperson’s subjective evaluation of an event on appraisaldimensions such as novelty, urgency, goal congruence,coping potential, and norm compatibility (for an excellentreview, see Scherer 1999). Occasionally, music may lead tothe induction of emotions through some of the sameappraisal dimensions. Thus, for example, a person may be trying to sleep at night, but is prevented from doingso by the disturbing sounds of a neighbor playing loudmusic on his or her stereo. In this case, the musicbecomes an object of the person’s irritation because itblocks the person’s goal: to fall asleep. Although thereis nothing particularly “musical” about this example, it isclear that music can sometimes induce emotions in listen-ers in this manner (Juslin et al., in press). Such responsescan easily be explained by traditional theories of emotion.However, the problem is that the available evidence indi-cates that this type of emotion is not typical of music liste-ning – most emotional reactions to music do
involveimplications for goals in life, which explains why they areregarded as mysterious: “The listener’s sad responseappears to lack the beliefs that typically go with sadness”(Davies 2001, p. 37).Because music does not seem to have goal implications,some researchers have assumed that music cannot induceemotions at all (Konec ˇ ni 2003) – or, at least, that it cannotinduce basic emotions related to survival functions (Kivy 1990; Scherer 2003).
Some researchers allow for thepossibility that music may induce “more subtle, music-speciﬁc emotions” (Scherer & Zentner 2001, p. 381; seealso Gurney 1880; Lippman 1953; Swanwick 1985), theprecise nature of which remains to be clariﬁed. Thisnotion is sometimes coupled with the assumption thatmusical emotions are induced through some unique (but yet unspeciﬁed) process that has little or nothing incommon with the induction mechanisms of “ordinary”
is Associate Professor of Psychology at Uppsala University, Sweden, where he teachescourses on music, emotion, perception, and researchmethodology. He completed his Ph.D. in 1998 underthe supervision of Alf Gabrielsson. Juslin has publishednumerous articles in the areas of expression in musicperformance, emotional responses to music, musiceducation, and emotion in speech. In 2001, he editedthe volume
Music and Emotion: Theory and Research
together with JohnSloboda. Juslin and Sloboda are cur-rently editing a handbook on music and emotion. Juslinis a member of the International Society for Researchon Emotions. Alongside his work as a researcher, hehas worked professionally as a guitar player.D
A ¨ STFJA ¨ LL
is a Research Scientist at DecisionResearch, Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A., and Assistant Pro-fessor of Psychology and Psychoacoustics at Go ¨ teborgUniversity and Chalmers University of Technology,Sweden. His educational history includes Ph.D.’s inboth Psychology and Acoustics. His research focuseson the role of emotion in judgment, perception, andpsychophysics. A common theme for his research ishow emotion serves as information for judgmentsabout objects, the self, and health. His current researchfocus is on the relationship between music andemotion, particularly on how acoustic parameters con-tribute to emotional responses. Va ¨ stfja ¨ ll is currently heading research projects on the link between musicand health and on the psychoacoustics of musicalemotion.
Juslin & Va ¨ stfja ¨ ll: Emotional responses to music560
BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES (2008) 31:5